CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Will Cummings knew someone had to make a big shot for Temple and he was more than willing to step up.
Cummings’ 3-pointer with 7 seconds left lifted the Owls to an 83-81 victory over Georgia at the Charleston Classic on Friday and rescued the Owls after the Bulldogs had rallied from 13 points down to move in front 81-80 on Charles Mann’s driving layup moments earlier.
“As soon as I released it, I knew it was good,” Cummings said.
And it brought plenty of relief to the Owls (2-3), who had lost their last three and needed something positive to carry into Sunday’s final tournament game.
“It’s a really good win for us,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “One we needed badly.”
Temple will take on UAB for fifth place while Georgia (1-3) falls to the seventh-place game against Nebraska, hoping to avoid going 0-for-3 at TD Arena.
The Owls didn’t panic in the huddle said Dalton Pepper, who led the team with a career-high 22 points. Quenton DeCosey swung the ball around to an open Cummings for his game winner.
The Bulldogs had a chance with 3.5 seconds left, but Donte Williams caught the inbounds from Brandon Morris and took a quick, long shot that bounced hard off the backboard. Mann could not re-direct the rebound and time ran out.
Georgia coach Mark Fox told his players they had time for a pass and thought Williams acted too quickly in shooting. Fox said his team needed to play improved defense so it wouldn’t fall behind as it did in the opening half and not to rely on late plays to prevail. “Give them credit, at the moment of truth, their kid made a great play,” he said.
Cummings finished with 17 points while Pepper made five 3-pointers and led the Owls with five assists.
DeCosey had 15 points and Daniel Dingle a career-high 12 for the Owls. Pepper was 5 of 9 on 3-pointers and led the Owls with five assists.
Kenny Gaines led Georgia with 21 points and Mann added 19.
Georgia chipped away at Temple’s 45-32 halftime lead throughout the second period. The Bulldogs tied things at 71-all on Nemanja Djurisic’s 3-pointer with 4:07 to go. Djurisic tied it again moments later at 73 before Cummings regained the lead for Temple with his bucket.
The Owls built their edge to 80-76 on Cummings foul shots with 1:41 left before Georgia made a final run. Gaines had a jam to cut the lead to one and set up Mann’s driving layup that put the Bulldogs in front before Cummings made his big shot.
Georgia and Temple were a couple of teams desperately seeking a win. The Bulldogs had lost to rival Georgia Tech before dropping their tournament opener to Davidson of the Southern Conference.
The Owls had lost three straight since an opening night win over Big 5 rival Penn, including a 72-58 loss to Clemson on Thursday night to close day one at TD Arena.
Georgia looked like it wanted it more at first, pushing to a 15-5 lead as Temple opened ice cold as it made just one of its first seven shots. Things changed dramatically after Owls coach Fran Dunphy called a time out after Nemanja Djurisic’s 3-pointer put Georgia ahead by 10.
Temple tied the game in the next three minutes as Pepper led a barrage of on-target long-range shooting by the Owls.
Pepper connected five times in a 26-5 run that put Temple ahead 31-21.
The Owls maintained their hot touch the rest of the way with Josh Brown and Daniel Dingle adding threes to build a 45-32 lead at the break.
Temple was 9 of 14 on 3-pointers the first 20 minutes while Georgia made just one of its five attempts from behind the arc.
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